James Head Fight Metric profile
Jason High Fight Metric profile
James Head vs. Jason High will be the first of four preliminary fights scheduled to broadcast on Fox Sports 2 on Saturday. It’s also a clash between fighters who are likely on the proverbial chopping block. Jason High is 0-2 in the UFC with a loss to Charlie Brenneman in 2010 and a 71-second loss to Erick Silva earlier this year. James Head is 2-2 in the UFC and coming off a knockout loss to Mike Pyle. Both fighters desperately need a win.
According to High’s Wikipedia page (which is always a trustworthy and professional source of information), he was 44-7 as a wrestler in his senior year of high school. However, his record in college at the University of Nebraska wasn’t so good. In his first year at Nebraska, High was just 4-16, and in his last year of eligibility, his record was mediocre at 11-10.
That’s why it’s not enough to know that a fighter has a “wrestling background”. As his collegiate performance would indicate, High hasn’t been a dominant wrestler at a high level in MMA. He’s landed 1.2 takedowns per 15 minutes at 40 percent accuracy. To put those numbers in perspective, Martin Kampmann lands 1.39 takedowns per 15 minutes at 42 percent accuracy… and I don’t hear people talking about Kampmann’s wrestling background much.
Obviously, there’s more to wrestling than just takedowns, but the point is that High’s wrestling abilities are not remarkably good.
What is good about High is that he has good punching power and is well versed in submissions. Even though High only has three career wins by KO/TKO, he’s landed three knockdowns in just 68 significant strikes as measured by Fight Metric. High is the kind of fighter who will hurt an opponent standing and then finish with a submission hold. He has seven wins by submission – four by guillotine choke and three by rear naked choke.
It will be interesting to see what game plan High uses against Head. Since moving down to 170 pounds, Head has shown much better takedown defense than when he was a middleweight. In his UFC debut against Nick Ring, Head was taken down five times. Since dropping a weight class, Head has only been taken down twice in 18 tries, including a 1 for 15 effort by Brian Ebersole.
Head is also an aggressive striker. He’s not polished on the feet and tends to get hit a lot, but he generally lands as many strikes as he takes. He’s much more aggressive than High, who has landed just 1.36 significant strikes per minute. If this fight becomes a striking match, one of two things is likely to happen: either High will knock Head down and finish the fight, or Head will win on points.
It’s a very competitive fight, but I’m going to favor High to win it. High has shown a much better ability to finish fights than Head, so if this fight is stopped inside the distance, I expect High to be the winner. On the flip side, if the fight goes the distance, Head is more likely to win, but there’s still a chance High can win on points if he gets his takedown game going.
Ultimately, High is the more dangerous fighter and that’s enough for me to slightly favor him.
Pick: Jason High by submission